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Lankford Meets with Oklahoma Community Health Center Leadership

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today connected with the leadership of Oklahoma community health centers from across the state to learn more about the challenges they face with staffing and workforce issues, how to best utilize and even expand telehealth opportunities across our state, and others. Lankford was also selected today to receive the 2022 Distinguished Community Health Center Advocate Award on behalf of the National Association of Community Health Centers.

“Oklahoma’s community health centers remain a vital part of our health care system, particularly in rural and underserved areas of the state,” said Lankford. “Throughout the pandemic they stood strong to bring quality care to our neighborhoods. I appreciate today’s opportunity to hear more about the issues they’re facing and how we can work together to ensure our health care system works for the Oklahoma patients they serve. COVID-19 has taught us the potential for expanding care through responsible telehealth and health innovation to serve patients even when they aren’t able to go to their doctor’s office for every visit. It has also highlighted the need to keep training health professionals and ensuring they’re accessible where they’re needed most in our state and nation. I look forward to our ongoing dialogue about how to serve community health centers and empower them to keep our families healthy across the state.”

Lankford met virtually today with:

  • Sean McAvoy, Lawton Health Center – Lawton, Medicine Park, Cache, Frederick, Elgin, Marlow, Burns Flat, and adjacent communities
  • Teresa Huggins, The Health and Wellness Center – Stigler, Eufaula, Poteau, and adjacent communities
  • Donna Dyer, East Central Oklahoma Family Medical Center – Wewoka, Wetumka, Henryetta
  • Michael Echelle, Caring Hands Healthcare Centers – McAlester, Hartshorne
  • Susan Savage, Morton Comprehensive Health Services – Tulsa, Nowata
  • Tim Starkey, Great Salt Plains Health Center – Cherokee, Medford, Canton
  • Janet Mendez, Community Health Centers of Northeastern Oklahoma
  • Jim McCarthy, Community Health Connection – Tulsa
  • Teresa Meyers, Good Shepherd Community Clinic – Ardmore
  • Ginger Creech,  Shortgrass Community Health Center – Hollis and adjacent communities

Lankford introduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act to expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors. Lankford remains engaged in ensuring community health centers can expand services as needed to serve their communities since they are sometimes the only health care provider for many miles.